Buses hike fares; train service improves
LONG distance bus operators have hiked fares ahead of the festive season leaving many travellers stranded. Harare to Mutare buses are now charging US$10 from the usual US$6, Harare-Bulawayo travellers now fork out US$20 from the normal US$12 while those travelling from Harare to Mberengwa will pay US$25 from the usual US$15.
Travellers at Mbare Musika yesterday lashed out at bus operators for doubling fares during the festive season.
They accused bus operators of daylight robbery.
“We have been waiting here since morning hoping that the bus operators will change their minds and charge us the fares we are used to but it seems they are not going to change,” said one passenger – Ronald Mawaza – who was travelling to Mutare.
“What is left for us now is to use the train though it is very slow.”
Bus operators who spoke to The Herald yesterday said they were expecting to make huge profits since they also have the festive season to celebrate. This, they said, their money should come from travellers.
Gerald Mlilo, a conductor with Tombs bus service, which services the Harare-Bulawayo route said the festive season is the only time they make money for their families since their salaries were not that good.
“This is where we get our Christmas so that is why we overcharge. Ndiani asingadiwo mari svinu nhai sister vangu,” (who do not want to make better money my sister.”
He said during the festive season they do not beg for passengers to board their buses.
Meanwhile the National Railways of Zimbabwe has added more coaches to the existing passenger trains on the country’s major routes.
The NRZ has also introduced special train services to cater for increased demand during the Christmas and New Year’s Holidays.
The trains began running from December 17 and will continue to January 2 between Harare and Bulawayo, Harare-Mutare, Bulawayo-Victoria Falls, Gweru-Masvingo, Bulawayo-Beitbridge, Bulawayo-Chiredzi and Bulawayo-Sango.
The NRZ spokesperson, Mr Fanuel Masikati, said the NRZ has boosted its fleet to ensure that travellers are not stranded.
“The NRZ having realised that travellers and school children get stranded at bus ranks during the holidays, has provided additional passenger coaches to cater for the increased demand during the Christmas and New Year holidays,” said Mr Masikati.
In addition to normal train services, Mr Masikati said special trains have been introduced for Harare-Mutare route on December 20 and 26 as well as Mutare-Harare on December 21 and 27.
The NRZ will also provide train services for Harare-Bulawayo tomorrow and Bulawayo-Harare on Friday.
Mr Masikati said commuter train services suspended in Harare and Bulawayo with effect from Monday this week would return on January 7, next year.
The Bulawayo-Francistown train service would be suspended from December 26 and normal services would return on January 2 next year.
“Normal services will resume on 30 December to 31 December and will again be suspended on 2 January to 3, 2012 and resume on 6 January 2012,” Mr Masikati said.
He urged motorists to exercise extreme caution when approaching rail level crossings.